Mating Birds Vol.2

17 January - 10 February 2019
Main, Mezzanine and Media galleries

Featured artists include: Billie Zangewa, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Lady Skollie, Sabelo Mlangeni, Simnikiwe Buhlungu, Tracey Rose and Trevor Makhoba. Reference material are drawn from literature, including, Bessie Head, Lebo Mashile, Lewis Nkosi, Makhosazana Xaba and Zakes Mda, as well philosophical texts, historical archives and other sources. Curated by Gabi Ngcobo with Sumayya Menezes and Zinhle Khumalo

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Today I believe in the possibility of love; that is why I endeavor to trace its imperfections, its perversion.
- Frantz Fanon, Black Skin White Mask


Mating Birds Vol.2 is a curatorial essay that takes the late Lewis Nkosi’s novel ‘Mating Birds’ as a starting point in order to visualize the troublesome histories associated with the Immorality Acts of the parliament of colonial and apartheid South Africa (Act No.5 of 1927, Act No. 23 of 1957, Act No. 57 of 1969) and how they shape contemporary perspectives on sex, sexuality and sexual relationships. The essay draws on original artwork as well as reference material from art, literature, philosophy, legal documents, letters, newspaper clippings and exhibition catalogues, among other sources. Published in 1983/86 the novel is set in Durban’s segregated beaches and narrated by a black man awaiting execution for allegedly raping a white woman. When it appeared the novel was equally critiqued and praised by many, including Henry Louis Gates, Jr who remarked on how it “confronts boldly and imaginatively the strange interplay of bondage, desire and torture inherent in interracial sexual relationships within the South African prison house of apartheid.” (New York Times: 1986) Meanwhile South African writer Andre Brink (1935-2015) accused Nkosi of being fascinated with inter-racial sexual relations and of being guilty of "distortion and exaggeration." “Mating Birds” can be understood as a story about the distortion of intimate relationships in apartheid South Africa. It exposes, as Jacqueline Rose has remarked, ways in which apartheid was a “sexual apartheid as much as, if not before, anything else”. (1995)


Mating Birds Vol.2 uses the exhibition space to map the manner in which artists have intervened in the space of sexual politics and how they continue to reshape the visual vocabulary of sexuality and sexual freedoms whilst questioning the way bodies are still impacted by the residual nature of repressing colonial and apartheid policies.

 

 

 

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